Strained relationships are a significant cause of stress. Whether it is with a spouse, child, parent, or friend, a problem interpersonally causes problems in many areas. Although there are many behavioral tips for helping problems in relationships (perhaps a future post), this book gives many insightful and spiritual ideas that ring true. I mentioned this book in my post from last week (Five Books that Can Help Your Marriage) and promised a more in-depth review.
This book is a wonderful parable intended to help each of us understand sin, the atonement, forgiveness, and agency. It is a wonderful book for anyone, but particularly helpful for those struggling with strained relationships, whether with a child, a spouse, parent, or others. It is written from the perspective of a man, Rick, and his Grandfather. They go on a journey together, finding personal insight from scriptural situations.
Although this is a story about Rick and his journey, there is deep insight into each one of our hearts. As we are all in need of a Savior, and the atonement, this book explores how we choose to accept Him, or not.
I found new insight in old scripture stories: David and Nabal, Jonah and Nineveh and Adam and Eve. My favorite part, though, was Ferrell’s discussion on agency and the atonement of Christ. He shares how agency is always bounded by consequences, and the amount of freedom we actually have is dependent on who we choose to follow: God or Satan. When we choose away from God, we become more influenced by the adversary, and it becomes more difficult to make good and righteous choices. Sin can become captivating and soon begin to take away our agency. Even the knowledge of good and evil is not enough; we must constantly and consistently choose good, and use the atonement of Christ to make up for our weakness. Dr. Ferrell states: “Precisely when we are most sinful and therefore in need of repentance we least feel the desire or need to repent. This is the predicament of sin.” (p. 163) Real change does not come from simply stopping the sin, it comes from ‘a mighty change of heart’ (Alma 5:10-14).
He finishes the book by discussing the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi in Alma 24. They were such a wicked people that they delighted in the shedding of blood. But they were converted, and buried their weapons of war, deep in the earth. Then, they covenanted with God that they would not be tempted to take them up again. This is an example of what we can each do with sin: We must bury our weapons of war – deep, where they cannot be easily retrieved. Then, as we continue our journey onward and forward from our mistakes and sins, we must keep our covenant with God, and rely on Him to help us remember and be strong.
If there are any who are struggling in a relationship – looking for a way to find peace, yet struggling with how to make changes – this book is a gem.
Here are a few of the glimmers of truth I was reminded of from the book:
1. In relationships, we often look at the other person as the problem. We must first reconcile the fact that we are imperfect too, and are very likely causing part of the problem. Taking responsibility for our own stuff is very difficult, but is essential in creating long-lasting relationships.
2. We must acknowledge that none of us are perfect. In admitting and acknowledging that, we soon see that we all need grace. We all need forgiveness. We all need hope from our Savior. When we admit and partake of that, we will be more empathetic and forgiving of those around us, and more prepared to truly understand the atonement.
3. Agency is truly a gift! We fought for this gift and can choose as we wish. But, we must also know that our choices come with consequences and these consequences can sometimes lead us to feel trapped and out-of-control. When we feel that way, we must look at ourselves and our choices first, not elsewhere, if we are truly going to find peace again.
4. There is always hope. God will never give up on us. No matter how far down the path we go, our Heavenly Father sees us, and yearns for our well-being. He loves us so much that He created this plan of Happiness to allow us to live with Him again. Now, that is powerful.
I hope if there are any seeking peace in a relationship, they will read this book and reread it. I know I learned some things, found some insights, and felt the spirit of truth speak from the pages.